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August/September/November Homeschool Miscellany

posted on: Sunday, 3 January 2021 @ 1:40pm in

I thought I’d already done August Homeschool Miscellany but apparently I’d done July and collected photos for August but not actually written the post. Oops. So everything ended up getting grouped as I’ve been struggling this year.

It’s no accident that October was left out, apparently we didn’t do anything that I could include.

Goolugatup Heathcote Museum

We initially heard that there was a museum in the building of the Heathcote Cultural Precinct when we attended a relative’s birthday party there. The precinct was a mental institution in the 1920s for mildly afflicted people and was one of the pioneering ones that broke away from the methods that seem to result in buildings being haunted.

What we didn’t know was that the museum was really, really tiny (one room) and we had to wander through the art gallery to get there.

The art gallery apparently contains work by local artists which is pretty cool. 13yo (who both appreciates and does art) claimed at the time that it was boring, but made things interesting for herself by bringing some friends in a group chat along for the ride, sending them photos and videos of the things she found interesting.

I didn’t realise that 11yo actually knew what antique book presses looked like and how they worked until he saw a sculpture of one and started enthusiastically explaining it to me.

11yo explaining how to use an antique book press

11yo really, really struggled not to touch the hanging displays on the way through, but we got through unscathed, and there were a couple of rooms with some interesting exhibits in them, and one dark one that was playing a movie. I didn’t get to catch it and can’t remember what 13yo said it was about, she had watched it as she had gone on ahead and after a very brief glimpse 11yo decided he wasn’t interested and wandered off.

The building that the gallery and museum were in used to be the reception area of the mental facility and some of the temporary holding cells had been left empty aside from the mattresses that would have been in them, as apparently they had to lock some more difficult people up in there temporarily while admitting them. From memory at least one of the rooms had some information things on the wall and we were able to walk in and see how tiny the rooms were.

The museum was the tiniest one we’ve been in to date, it ended up being just one room in the whole building. I took this photo from the doorway.

13yo and 11yo looking in the one-room Heathcote Museum, Applecross, Western Australia

The presentation was quite well done, utilising the hospital trollies and clipboards that would have been in use at the time. The information was on the clipboards and designed to look like patient notes. It even encouraged 11yo to pick them up and read them properly (he normally skims text walls on placards, he doesn’t ask for summaries anymore as I keep telling him to go and read the thing).

11yo loves history and watches a fair few documentaries, and once more was able to tell me with minimal referral to the labels and information chart (seen in the below picture at the bottom of the trolley) what all the oldschool dental equipment was for.

11yo looking at oldschool dental equipment at Heathcote Museum, Applecross, Western Australia

While both the kids were somewhat disappointed that we hadn’t gone to a medieval style asylum of the type that causes hauntings (we are planning on visiting the Fremantle Arts Centre and revisiting Fremantle Prison for the torchlight tour and the tunnel tour when they come back, yes the kids are going through the supernatural stage), they were nonetheless more interested than they thought they would be and spent an appreciable amount of time walking around the room studying everything.

Even though we looked closely at most things the museum was still only very tiny, and as we had a bit of time to kill, we decided to head down the hill to the river. We walked along the shore (or rather along the rocks which had some shore poking out in places), I taught the kids how to skip rocks and we eventually devolved from seeing who could get the most skips to seeing who could throw furthest, found some interesting moss and then the kids found a couple of rocks to balance and hide more rocks on with the plan of picking them up again if we ever went back. I said we would probably go back at some stage but it was anyone’s guess if they remembered to check where they’d left their rocks.


13yo and friends really got into cosplaying over 2020 which has resulted in an inordinate amount of pocket money being spent on wigs and various clothing items.

Unfortunately she had to learn about discrimination first hand as apparently they were sitting around some heritage tree in Parliament Gardens just like a number of other people were doing. The only thing they were doing differently was making candy bracelets (remember those? XD) and Tiktoks. Some City of Perth rangers however decided to target the kids who were dressed funny and threatened them with $800 fines for damaging the tree while completely ignoring another group of kids who were allegedly climbing on it (13yo and friends were around the tree’s garden bed but not near the tree itself). We told them if it ever happens again to very politely request their names and badge/id numbers so we could put in formal complaints. Fortunately this is not a daily occurrence as it can be for other people.


11yo has been keen to try all forms of skating (or at least the types easily accessible to us, he has expressed interest in trying out ice skating and snowboarding as well but they’re slightly harder for us to manage where we are). Earlier in the year he was hooning around on a skateboard often enough that J bought him his own one. Then he tried inline skating borrowing my skates which I warned him was harder.

He persevered and was eventually able to skate in a straight line, turn and stop without falling over, which gradually progressed to navigating gentle ramps. And there were a few minor shenanigans.

He then bailed out and went to “easy mode” as we call scootering. We bought him a scooter for Christmas and he’d started navigating ramps from the first session and working out how to hop ramps to avoid the thunk which sounds satisfying but destroys your speed, and slowly figuring out how to jump.


J and I have been going on weekend hikes to a different part of Banyowla Regional Park as during “self isolation” “everyone” had suddenly discovered Ellis Brook. 11yo has so far been the only one to come with us, and on one occasion we brought the outlaws as well, which was great as mother-in-law (who grew up on a farm) was able to identify a lot of the wildflowers (and because I didn’t write anything down I’ve forgotten most of them).

11yo also found a “big stick” which he picked up to try to estimate the height of.

11yo carrying half a tree at Banyowla Regional Park, Western Australia

I think he estimated three metres before realising there were ants on it and quickly dropping it. I then told him to move it off the track as dirt bikers use the trails and the log on the path would be a safety hazard, so he carefully dragged the log back to roughly where he’d picked it up from.

Stuff that people recognise as educational

15yo went through a stage where he was sleeping interesting hours and didn’t really want to get off his computer, thus bailing on quite a number of excursions. He got in trouble frequently as he was usually gaming whenever I happened past but he has been watching various documentaries, mainly David Attenborough though he’s found some other interesting things either on Youtube or Netflix. We had a few serious chats about what needed to be done both to appease the Education Department (as unlike schools I can get cancelled really easily) and to get where he wanted to go if he wanted to do pharmacy. He must have had some brain development in October or November as he suddenly started doing the bare minimum that I’d set him of two days a week of either Khan Academy or his books. He preferred Khan Academy to the books and would occasionally do extra so hoping for an improvement on that this year. He also started writing down a lot of the maths he was doing for Factorio as he eventually discovered he couldn’t keep or work it all out in his head a lot of the time, and it’s quite a few pages even allowing for the fact he still tends to write big.

13yo has been filling sketchbooks with drawings, has been designing cosplays and occasionally doing books, and has been writing short stories and fanfics of various length. She’s gotten a bit more hardcore into video editing recently as well, downloading various video editors to test out on her laptop. She was surprised when I told her that it was maths, and said she would have been a lot more interested in maths when she was trying out school if it had been presented as such. We’ve had a few more chats about different education processes and how it would help me a lot if they talked more about the things that they were interested in so it would be easier to design and report around, and I think she now has a deeper appreciation of homeschooling and is generally pretty easy to work with. She was quite happy to write about how she does the graphs for transitions.

13yo's explanation of how to use graphs to make smooth transitions

She has indicated an interest in posting on hive again and we are waiting for dapplr to be released as that ux would be something she’s a bit more used to, though if she’s interested enough to deal with the less familiar long form blogging platforms I’m quite happy to chuck her back on the peakd interface.

11yo found some blutak while I was cleaning out the art cupboard and got into one of his rare art spats, putting together a skeleton key out of toothpicks, a popstick and blutak, and making a little blutak warrior with sword and shield (possibly inspired by one of his VR games).

After seeing the little warrior, I asked if he would like some actual clay to model with. Having been watching sculptors on Youtube, 11yo was quite excited at the prospect of using actual clay and made a bigger human shape.

11yo sculpting with clay

He got an old knife to help with some of the carving and asked if he could get more clay and some sculpting tools. I said I would if he maintained the interest for an extended period of time. It hasn’t seen a lot of use since but I’m still considering a few basic tools in the next educational supplies top up to see if it encourages a bit more use.